A two-year-old girl in Mississippi has become an important milestone in the battle against HIV after having apparently been cured of the infection.
Born shortly after her mother tested positive for HIV, the virus the causes AIDS, the girl was immediately given a cocktail of three anti-retroviral drugs. Days later, blood tests detected HIV in her blood. However, placed on a continuing drug regimen, the levels of HIV in her blood soon became undetectable, Bloomberg noted.
After months of treatments, the girl’s visits with physicians became spotty. When she was re-tested — having missed five months of drug treatments altogether — doctors were astonished to find that the levels of HIV in her blood remained undetectable. Highly sensitive tests found no active trace of the virus.
The girl was treated with drugs developed by a joint venture among GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). A variety of other drug makers, including Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Merck (NYSE:MRK) are currently working on treatments to drive HIV from infected patients.
More research is needed to see of the effect can be replicated in other children, but medical experts say that the little girl’s case could change how newborns from HIV-infected mothers are treated. About 1,000 children are born infected with the disease every day around the world. The highest childhood infection rate is in Africa.
Shares of Abbott Laboratories and Pfizer rose slightly in Monday morning trading, while GlaxoSmithKline shares slipped fractionally.